Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time, Crusade: Episodes 5-6

Best side character so far. I don’t know if she shows up again but I love her so much.

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Now I’ve finished the series, but am working my way through the movies, related works, comics, and books. Please don’t spoil anything from other works here! 

5: Patterns of the Soul

New worries abound as there is fear that the Drakh Plague is spreading. The Excalibur is dispatched to investigate and given a totally flawless defense against the plague–a nanoshield that will slough of anything that comes in contact with the lungs for 48 hours. Surely nothing could go wrong.

The colonists are infected, but there is also indigenous life on the planet. They believe the human colonists may have brought their destruction. When Dureena encounters the first people of the planet, they tell her about their arrival on the planet and we see a scene with the Shadows destroying their colony ship. For Dureena, this signifies a, as she puts it, “lost tribe.” The people here are a lost tribe from Dureena’s own people, and she is willing to put up quite a fight to ensure their safety.

The colonists capture Dr. Chambers and take off from the planet, quickly putting the Earthforce foolishness about not establishing a quarantine into perspective. Also, it seems there’s something seriously wrong with the apparent leader of these rebellious colonists. I don’t know if it’s just how he’s acting the character, but there’s a kind of stilted nature of how he’s speaking that seems to suggest an unhinged person.

Earthforce themselves, of course, are deeply involved in the plight of the colonists, and when Gideon uncovers it, he is… displeased. He helps the colonists have another chance to get back to the planet and not be removed. Dureena , in a conversation after this, notes that Gideon hides the truth and gambles with lives. Gideon seems to take it as the compliment is probably intended to be.

On Excalibur, our corporate interlocutor/archaeologist Max Eilerson attempts to sway Dr. Chambers to let him announce the discovery of Dureena’s people, an apparently profitable venture. Chamber upbraids him and he apparently feels enough a twinge of conscience that he covers up the knowledge of her people in his report to his company back home.

This episode was interesting but seems to have a lot of new stuff happening–the discovery of Dureena’s entire remaining people would seem to be a shocking development that requires more reaction than it gets.

6: Ruling from the Tomb

Lochley! Mars! Lochley gets absolutely wrecked by a Mars cop in a debate over how many people she needs to protect something on Mars. Kind of an epic conversation. Anyway, Gideon shows up and he’s at a conference of doctors trying to figure out a cure for the plague. But killings start to happen and we get some major religious underpinnings to those killings in the background.

There is apparently some kind of doomsday cult named Sacred Omega that is behind the killing. Alain LeBecque is hearing a voice that purports to be telling him the will of God as he continues down the violent path following the voice–of Joan D’Arc? Babylon 5’s broad obsession with the Medieval era continues. The strong casting for Lieutenant Carr meant she stole every scene she was in. I mean that in the best way–Juanita Jennings owned that character.

This episode was a mix of ideas and feelings, blending nostalgia for the original B5 series with flashes of brilliance. But overall, the central plot–a deranged religious killer endangering a conference about the plague–isn’t very strong. The mystery is never allowed to be a mystery because we essentially know what’s happening from the get-go. Moreover, though steeped in religious language, the episode doesn’t cash in on the subtle looks at religion Babylon 5 had throughout the entire series. Instead, we just have the death of LeBecque as he sees himself being, by God’s grace, in paradise. The lengthy discussions at the end with Gideon, for example, saying he conditions his belief in God on whether the plague is cured and the other main characters sitting around talking about the difficulty with interpreting religion do add some thoughtfulness to the mix. It just seems like not enough payoff–or perhaps not enough buy-in–for the episode to carry.

Also what the hell is with the credit music in this one?

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